an initiative of ACCORD
History of Hygiene
Graphs and Statistics

Hair Removal

A brief history of…HAIR REMOVAL

Ancient Egypt: The first “waxing”? Ancient Egyptians developed “sugaring”, where a mixture of oil and honey was applied to the body, then vigorously stripped to remove the hair with it.

3000 BC: The first depilatory creams? Ancient Egyptian women are reported to have used depilatory pastes made from arsenic trisulfide, quicklime and starch.

Ancient Turkey: The first threading? Still used today, predominantly in India and the middle East, threading uses a twisted cotton tread to pluck unwanted hair.

Ancient Rome: Hair was removed by scraping a metal strigil over the oiled skin. Julius Caesar plucked out his facial hair with tweezers – or rather his servants did. Depilatory creams at this time are reported to have included pitch, donkey fat, she-goat gall, bat’s blood and powdered viper!

Ancient Greece: Women removed leg hair by singeing, using abrasives such as pumice stone, or by various wax and depilatory concoctions.

From 7th C: The Quran specified that at least every 40 days the moustache and nails must be trimmed and the pubic and underarm hair removed.

1500s: Queen Elizabeth plucked eyebrow and forehead hair to give her distinctive, high forehead look.

1700s: A European recipe for hair removal required powdering hard, dry cat dung and mixing it with strong vinegar.

Question   How would you feel about…

This bridal ritual? The night before a wedding in Lebanese, Palestinian, Turkish and Egyptian cultures, the wedding party removed all of the bride’s body hair except her eyebrows and her head hair.

Lightbulb  Developments towards modern-day hair removal

1844: The first commercial depilatory? Depilatory powder was marketed by Dr Gourand in the USA. 1940: The first modern depilatory. A stocking shortage during World War II meant legs went bare, prompting the development of Nair. 1980: Commercial warm wax / hot wax, actually a sugar mixture, was developed in Australia.

1880: The first safety razor was patented in the USA as an alternative to the commonly used steel razor. 1903: Disposable razors were sold in the USA. 1927: The first electric shaver with oscillating blades, was invented in the USA.

1995: The first non-soap moisturising shave gel was developed.

Today, shaving, waxing and chemical depilation are the most popular hair removal methods in Australia.


useful stuff...

How Australian pandemics have changed! The 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic caused over 10,000 deaths in Australia,14 whereas the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic ("Swine Flu") caused 191 deaths.15 English knights were required to bathe at least once in their lives - during the ritual of their knighthood ceremony. Because of this tradition, during the reign of King Henry IV there originated an order called "Knights of the Bath".16 The term "shampoo" came from Indian language and originally meant "massage".17 English society ladies held vacuuming parties after invention of the horse-drawn electric vacuum in 1901.18
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